With summer in full swing, a group of local teens have found a fun and creative ways to occupy their time. Oak Park Public Library welcomed 100 teens to take part in the library’s teen summer volunteer program. This group of committed teens, entering seventh through twelfth grades, is putting their talent, creativity, and energy to work while building their skill-set and participating in the local community.
The teen summer volunteer program, now in its fifth year, generally runs seven weeks. Teen volunteers are divided into teams to work on a specific project that matches their interests. The teams, which consist of Art Attack, Booktalkers, Carnies, Design Lab, Fiber Freaks, Flashbulbs, and ThinkTank, allow the teens the opportunity to build skills in areas such as writing, design, art, and photography. In addition, the volunteers get a better sense of the resources and services available at the library.
Members of Art Attack have already pieced together grass, sticks, and other earth-friendly materials to make a public art installation. At the end of an intense week, they installed caterpillars and mushrooms in front of the Main Library and at Austin Gardens. Says one teen artist, “It took a surprising amount of work, but we're cool. And done. It looks so freaking amazing.” Art Attack shared their week-long experience through photos and daily blog posts at http://opplteen.org/ .
As the summer progresses, other volunteer teams will share progress on their projects. Team members on Booktalkers are reading a book a week and writing reviews to get other teens interested in reading. The Carnies team is running carnival games and making crafts to assist with the summer reading program. Design Lab is working on a t-shirt design to advertise the teen volunteer program. Fiber Freaks are busy knitting and crocheting in preparation of Yarn Bombing the Maze Branch Library landscaping. Flashbulbs are working on a photography project inspired by the historical photo collection of Philander Barclay. Later this summer, ThinkTank will meet for four intense weeks to brainstorm new library events and services for teens.
Teens who are volunteering on a drop-in basis are organizing books on the shelves, search for misplaced books, and putting books on display. Plus, over 40 junior volunteers (kids going into fifth and sixth grade) are helping with special library events this summer.
“We sincerely hope that those who participate can take away life and career skills from their experience while having a really great time with their peers,” said Rebecca Malinowski, Adult and Teen Services Librarian. “We really love having their energy and enthusiasm to inspire us over the summer. The program has the added benefit of allowing youth to take an active role and engage in the community of Oak Park.”
Find more information on volunteering with Oak Park Public Library year round at http://oppl.org/support/volunteer .